Review: A Spoon of Honey by Ion Corcos

Corcos, Ion, A Spoon of Honey, Flutter Press, 2018. $4.00 (digital only).

Corcos explores travel, movement, and restlessness in a touching and emotion led pamphlet. He takes his reader from snowy mountain tops, to olive groves in Greece, inflecting these surroundings with emotions and experiences that resonate with the reader.

From the first few poems in the pamphlet Corcos sets up this combined theme of location and emotion. The titles of his poems largely refer to something natural, such as ‘Blue shells’, ‘Walnut tree’, and ‘Night Rain’, or places, such as ‘Saint Naum Monastery’ – or one that combines both, ‘Winter in Crete’. However, these poems intertwine deep human emotions with the seemingly innocuous titles.

The poem ‘Night Rain’ is a standout piece of the pamphlet. Opening with a description of a cat sat on a darkening mountain road, the almost idyllic surroundings soon spiral into a vivid revelation:

 

    it does not see the car coming

                       

            like I don’t see the venom 

            coming from my mother, another letter

            full of her old furniture 

            thrown from the top-floor window,

            mouth like a whirlpool. 

            The car drives through the water, splashes 

            as it speeds toward the cat.

I am not going to tell you how this poem ends, you’ll have to buy the pamphlet!

There are many clever and subtle links between poems throughout the pamphlet. The opening poem, ‘A Spoon of Honey’, in particular holds references to numerous later poems in the rest of the pamphlet. These serve as a gentle thread throughout which unite the poems in a controlled and elegant way. One poem alluded to in the opening poem is ‘Earthworms’, which was another favourite piece due to the wonderful metaphors it is structured around. The poem begins:

 

Beneath the earth,

            worms burrow 

 

            corridors

           

            leave behind a map

            of nostalgia.

This is one example of how Corcos uses natural imagery and unexpected metaphors to draw the reader into his poems. The imagery used is memorable in the way it ties elements of nature to unique and personal feelings.

In the latter half of the pamphlet, Corcos reverses this pattern of starting with a natural object and expanding into human emotion by beginning to do this the other way around. The poems ‘My God’ and ‘When You Laugh’ are excellent examples of this. In the poem, ‘My God’ Corcos catalogues everything that God can be to the narrator; from ‘the last clap of thunder that I did not expect’ to, ‘a raindrop, the shallow water / of a paddy, grey mud clumped in the fields, / like the hard crust of a crocodile.’ The inversion of the pattern established early on serves to emphasise the message that Corcos most explicitly explains in the poem ‘When You Laugh. In the closing lines, Corcos writes, ‘We are starting to understand one another again; / to see that things are not always what they seem.’ These lines encapsulate the very thing Corcos does throughout the pamphlet – taking something that seems one way and presenting it to be something completely different; he demonstrates that what you expect to find or see is rarely the reality.

Ultimately, Corcos reimagines perceptions of natural surroundings, giving them new and captivating associations. The simple language and structure used throughout A Spoon of Honey makes this pamphlet a beautifully accessible read. The simplicity of language allows the subtle connections Corcos has weaves between the poems to really shine. The reader can really appreciate the artful manner in which these poems are crafted individually, but also as a whole.

 

Beth O’Brien

 


 

You can buy a digital copy of A Spoon of Honey here.

Beth O’Brien (she/her) is a third year English Literature student at the University of Birmingham. She has published poems with Foxglove Journal and Nine Muses Poetry, and is a reviewer for Mad Hatter Reviews.She has also written articles for sheswanderful.com and the Graduate Recruitment Bureau blog.

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